Coach helping a child cycle

Sport England partners with Open University for free online course

  • Author

    GreaterSport
  • Date

    18th February 2019

Tags: coaching, workforce development

The Open University has been awarded £38,500 by Sport England to develop a free online course, launching in July 2019, for those who train, mentor or develop the skills of sports coaches, officials, instructors and activity leaders. More than 2.6 million people in England have coached in the last year – helping over 9 million people develop sports skills and stay active.

Ben Oakley, Professor of Sports Performance Education at The Open University, said:

“It is excellent to have our sports expertise and work-related training recognised on a national level. By improving the coaching delivered by people in many different areas of sport and physical activity, thanks to the Sport England funding, this course will have the knock-on effect of benefiting thousands of people who are coached. That’s a really exciting prospect for us in terms of the impact we are going to have.”

Building a stronger coaching workforce

Forming part of Sport England’s plan to build a stronger and more supported workforce, the free OU Coaching Others to Coach course will be hosted on its learning website, OpenLearn, and will be a Badged Open Course (BOC), with a final digital badge awarded on completion. Aimed at professional and volunteer coach developers, the course includes video, audio and interactive materials involving eight 2-3-hour online learning sessions with digital assessment, covering:

  • How adults learn
  • The skills and communication behaviours of those coaching coaches
  • How to make sense of complex learning environments
  • Observing practice and providing feedback to coaches
  • Understanding and recognising expertise in coach development

Dr Alex Twitchen, Senior Lecturer in Sport Coaching Practice and Learning, helped to develop the course, and said: “Coach developers, the people who coach the coaches, are an essential part of the coaching workforce. The support and guidance they provide to the 3.1m coaches in the UK is important, and our course will help them become even better at what they do. This course recognises the value of their role in developing coaching.”

Using digital learning to help coaches

Sport England is a national body that encourages everyone to take part in sport or physical activity, regardless of their age, background or ability. The new course fits in to its aim to use technology and digital learning to help coaches, volunteers and the professional workforce continue their training more easily.

Caroline Fraser, Director of Workforce at Sport England said: “Coaches, volunteers and officials are the backbone of the sport and physical activity industry - constantly going above and beyond to make sure millions of people can get active. If we are to tackle inactivity head on, we must also go to great lengths to make sure that everyone working in sport and activity feels confident, valued and supported.

“That’s why we have awarded funding to The Open University’s innovative online course. We are excited to see the benefits providers of sports and physical activity gain from this course, not only in improving their offering and building their expertise but also in creating inclusive, engaging and attractive environments to support more people getting active.”

The Open University already has 6,000 people studying two existing sports coaching BOCs, Exploring Sport Coaching and Psychology, and Communication and Working Relationships in Sport and Fitness.